GoToMyPC is a technology that was aquired by a Citrix a few years ago, but has been around for quite some time. Essentially, it enables a user to remote control a PC using a web-based Java application. What does this really mean? Well, no matter where you are, if you have an Internet-connected computer and a web browser, you can access that machine at home or work or somewhere entirely different. GoToMyPC allows you not only to control the machine, but also transfer files between the "guest" (the machine that is controlling) and the "host" (the machine being controlled). Having tested this service under a number of different circumstances (and connection speeds), I can attest to the utility of the service. The following is just a partial list of some of the ways I've used the service:
- Remote access to files stored on my office desktop
I travel a great deal and occassionally will put something on my desktop while I'm in the office, but forget to pull it off of that machine before I leave. With GoToMyPC, I just connect to that machine and transfer the data I need.
- Accessing applications not loaded on my laptop
I have been using QuickBooks to manage my business since Consejo started. While I've recently started using the Online version of QuickBooks, I had previously used the Professional version. Since the data can only realistically exist in one place, I needed a way to access the application when I wasn't in the office. I could have loaded it on my laptop, but I also didn't necessarily want sensitive financial data "out in the world" where something bad could happen. Using GoToMyPC, I was simply able to "dial in" to my office desktop, do what I needed to do in Quickbooks and get out.
- Remote Support
When you're the "technical" guy in the family, you tend to get a lot of "help desk" calls from relatives. In my case, I get these kinds of calls frequently enough to warrant a solution where I didn't necessarily have to step my relatives through a troubleshooting process. It's often much easier for them to simply call, tell me they're having a problem and I remotely connect to their machine. Once I've connected to their machine, I have the option of "showing them" how to correct their problem, simply fixing the problem for them or scheduling a time when I can connect later to do some more investigation.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is a realistic picture of what I've used the service to accomplish. I can honestly say that I use the service a few times a day for almost all of the applications in my list. While it is clearly targeted at controlling a single machine, once you're connected to that single machine, you have the option of using a Windows-included technology like Remote Desktop to control other machines within the remote network (this is good for remote network administration of servers or other machines connected to the same network as the host). For me it has been well worth the $179/year subscription fee (you also have the option of paying around $20 monthly).
In short, GoToMyPC is an excellent technology for providing secure and relatively reliable (as reliable as the Internet connection you have) remote access.